Back in 2004, Jane Gross wrote in The New York Times: "With rare exceptions, no disability claims more parental time and energy than autism because teaching an autistic child even simple tasks is labor intensive, and managing challenging behavior requires vigilance." New studies confirm that parenting ASD children is stressful. This finding comes as no surprise to these parents -- trust me on that -- but as Alison Singer reminds us, it is important to have systematic published research on all aspects of the issue -- even when it merely documents what people know already. Stress levels are an important element in the politics of autism, too. Stressed-out parents may lack the time and energy to engage in legislative and regulatory advocacy outside their individual cases.
Both the studies are in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. IMPORTANT NOTE: THROUGH NOVEMBER 30, FULL-TEXT DOWNLOADS AT THIS JOURNAL ARE AVAILABLE FOR FREE: THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO KNOW IF YOU WANT TO BACK UP YOUR ARGUMENTS DURING AN IEP.
See here for a discussion of IEP-relevant literature.
Fatigue, Stress and Coping in Mothers of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, by Monique Seymour, Catherine Wood, Rebecca Giallo and Rachel Jellett. Abstract:
Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be exhausting, which has the potential to impact on parental health and wellbeing. The current study investigated the influence of maternal fatigue and coping on the relationship between children’s problematic behaviours and maternal stress for 65 mothers of young children (aged 2–5 years) with ASDs. Results showed that maternal fatigue but not maladaptive coping mediated the relationship between problematic child behaviours and maternal stress. These findings suggest child behaviour difficulties may contribute to parental fatigue, which in turn may influence use of ineffective coping strategies and increased stress. The significance of fatigue on maternal wellbeing was highlighted as an important area for consideration in families of children with an ASD.The Association Between Mental Health, Stress, and Coping Supports in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, by Benjamin Zablotsky, Catherine P. Bradshaw and Elizabeth A. Stuart. Abstract:
Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be a stressful experience for parents. When left unmanaged, high stress levels can lead to the development of depressive symptomatology, highlighting the importance of coping supports. The current paper examined the stress level and psychological wellbeing of mothers with a child with ASD in a national survey. After adjusting for child, mother and family level characteristics, it was determined that mothers of children with ASDs were at greater risk for poor mental health and high stress levels compared to mothers of children without ASDs. The presence of maternal coping strategies, in the form of emotional and neighborhood social supports, as well as strong coping skills, reduced these risks between models.